14 January, 2018 | Share Article
T he eighth Tehran Auction, the biggest sale of artworks in Iran, was held in Parsian Azadi Hotel on Friday and earned $3.4 million.
A total of 120 works from Iranian contemporary artist went under the hammer. Prices varied from $1,800 to $364,000. The elegant hotel held an exhibition of the artworks presented at the auction for three days ending on the auction night.
Works from Monir Farmanfarmaian, Farhad Moshiri and Y.Z. Kami at the event had been previously sold at Christie’s auction in Dubai.
Three painting were the record holders at the event with 10 billion rials ($228,000). Two other paintings went for 5 billion rials ($114,000) and above.
An untitled Farmanfarmaian work of mirror mosaics and plaster on wood was bought for $296,000, the most expensive item of the night. She was named the first woman artist to top the auction’s price list throughout its history.
All the previous price records of Tehran Auction were in the name of male artists. Farmanfarmaian’s other untitled work was sold for $6,400. Her works had been presented at the Christie’s Auction in Dubai.
The 95-year-old artist has a rich collection of works in her own style. During her formative years in New York, from 1945 to 1957, she met American painters Milton Avery (1885-1965), Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), Dutch abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), American sculptor Louise Nevelson (1899-1988), American abstract expressionist Barnett Newman (1905-1970), and later, American pop artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987), among others.
Later she returned to Iran and developed her art through encounters with traditional craftsmanship, indigenous art forms such as Turkmen jewelry and clothing, coffee house paintings (a popular form of Iranian narrative paintings), and the technique of reverse-glass painting, resulting in a period of artistic revival that culminated in her commissioned projects in Iran and exhibitions across Europe and the US.
Second Highest Bids
Second highest bid at the auction was shared by two works; ‘White Dome III’ by Kamran Yousefzadeh also known as Y.Z. Kami; and ‘Only You’, a painting by Farhad Moshiri at $228,000.
‘White Dome III’ is from Kami’s collection of white domes. It tells the story of the artist’s deep insight into human relationships and his memories from the environment that he lived in. The effect of religion on the catharsis of the human soul can be seen by moving from the dark margins of the painting to its central point which is pure white and light.
Kami, 60, is an Iranian painter based in New York City. He is known for referencing core concepts of different faiths and philosophies in his artworks. Though the subjects in his oeuvre span from painted portraits and devotional subject matter to abstract domes and architectural elements, the artist continually returns to themes of introspection, subjectivity and contemplation.
He has worked in a variety of media including collage, photography, installation and sculpture, though he is mainly regarded as a painter.
‘Only You’ by Moshiri is a diptych oil on canvas painting from the ‘Jars’ collection. His use of monochrome background in the painting provides a surface for the renascence of the jar in the modern world. Persian words on the surface of the jar are written in Nastaliq script which is an old style of calligraphy in Iran. This usage is in line with nothing but Moshiri’s intention to re-tell the Iranian art and culture with a modern voice.
Another work of Moshiri from the same collection, ‘Small Black Bowl’, was sold as the third most expensive artwork at $125,000.
Born in Shiraz, capital of Fars Province, Moshiri, now lives and works in Tehran and Paris. He addresses contemporary Iranian norms and traditions and simultaneously reflects on cultural developments in his homeland.
After Moshiri’s works comes an oil painting on canvas from Manouchehr Yektaei. Painted in 1972, the work was sold at $114,000.
Yektaei, 95, is one of the renowned Iranian contemporary artists. His mix of abstract expressionism with eastern art essence has given a unique quality to his works.
What can be considered as the phenomena of the auction was a photo by the renowned war photographer Saeed Sadeqi, 64.
His photo from the ‘Karbala 5’ military operation in 1986 (during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war) was initially estimated at between $4,550- $5,700, but was sold for $12,500.
Although the total earnings at the auction were considerable, works of famous contemporary artists, namely Sohrab Sepehri, Parviz Tanavoli, Bahman Mohassess and Mohammad Ahsaei, were not presented.